As the parent of a new baby I began to research parenting methods in order to find the parenting style that I felt was best for my child. I came across many different books, many different methods and many different theories on baby-parenting and child-rearing. None of them seemed to be exactly what I was looking for. Either the styles seemed to authoritarian or too permissive and some directly contradicted others. How was I supposed to parent this helpless little baby into a healthy adult?
I quickly realized that common sense and knowing my child were my two best parenting guides. There was no parenting book that would have all of the answers. There was no one style of parenting that would fit every family. There were a few parenting choices I had already made such as breastfeeding and co-sleeping that I decided to keep in place. Sure, I worried about nursing for comfort and how I would ever get my child to sleep in his own bed, but those practices were working for me at the moment and we were making it through each day with as few tears as possible.
When my son was about 6 weeks old he would spend his evenings crying. I knew little about the need for non-nutritive comfort sucking and he wouldn’t take a pacifier anyway. I did not want to become a human pacifier so I tried rocking, singing, bouncing, handing him over to daddy and everything else that the books told me might work. But after a couple of days I decided to try nursing him when his fussing began even if he’d just eaten 30 minutes ago. And it worked. The crying stopped. He was happy. He was comforted. I had listened to my instincts and done something that none of the books had recommended. By doing that I had proved to myself and son that I could take care of his needs.
However, in the back of my mind I still worried. What if this comfort nursing continued for weeks or even months (it did)? What if he never took a pacifier or bottle (he didn’t)? What would I do when it came time to wean (he stopped nursing without being forced to)? As I searched for answers to these questions of a nervous first time mother one parenting style continued to show up in internet searches. Attachment parenting it was called. I scoffed at this while in my mind there were images of bratty children making demands on their bewildered yet still sugary sweet parents. In my opinion, attachment parenting was spoiling a child, plain and simple. But I continued to read more about this style of parenting.
As I found information concerning attachment parenting I quickly realized that it was not at all what I had believe it to be. In fact, the way I had parented my baby so far was actually AP! By using my instincts and following the cues that my baby gave about his needs I was building an attachment with him so that as he was ready he could grow independent of me, and feel safe doing so. I had found a name for my parenting style even though I didn’t follow the ‘rules’ of it to the letter.
My best advice to new parents who are searching for a parenting style to follow is to not look too hard. Do what you feel is best, use parenting books and experts as guides when there is a situation you cannot get a handle on and don’t try to put a name on your parenting style.
It just happened that attachment parenting was right for me and for my child. For others, this parenting style might not be the right fit. By listening to themselves and their baby and not following strict, unwavering advice from someone who does not know their child new parents can be sure that they will give their baby what he or she needs to grow happy and healthy.